A program landing three verbal commitments on the same day is something that tends to happen far more often in college football than in college basketball. But don’t tell that to the Manhattan Jaspers, who were on the receiving end of such good fortune as reported by Zach Braziller of the New York Post.
Nazareth HS teammates Samson Akilo (a 6-8 forward) and Samson Usilo (a 6-4 guard), both natives of Nigeria, made the decision to join head coach Steve Masiello’s program Wednesday evening.
“They’ve been talking about it for the last few days,” said Naz coach Todd Jamison, who praised the recruiting job done by assistant Rasheen Davis. “They called me, said, ‘Coach, we want to do this,’ and I said, ‘OK.’ Now they can concentrate on the season. There’s no more stress. That’s it, they know where they are going to school.”
On the heels of their decision, 6-7 forward Calvin Crawford (Middleton, N.Y.; will attend St. Thomas More in the fall) announced his decision to become a Jasper as well. According to CBT’s Terrence Payne, Masiello observed all three at the BasketBull Summer Championships in Ardsley, N.Y. last weekend.
Manhattan struggled with injuries last season, with primary scoring option George Beamon going down early in the season with a season-ending ankle injury. But Masiello’s squad managed to go 9-9 in MAAC play and reach the title game of the MAAC tournament, where they fell by three points to rival Iona.
The 2012-13 season did feature the emergence of forward Rhamel Brown as the best defender in the MAAC, and the addition of Maryland transfer Ashton Pankey should make the Jaspers a formidable squad inside.
Manhattan’s an experienced group (the return of Beamon will definitely help matters), and with a full roster they’ll be able to go back to playing the uptempo style coach Masiello prefers. The bolstered rotation (Manhattan also adds a four-member recruiting class) should make the Jaspers a contender in the MAAC in 2013-14.
In two seasons at the school Masiello has a record of 35-31, lifting up a program that struggled mightily prior to his arrival. The ultimate goal: leading Manhattan to its first NCAA tournament berth since 2004.
Raphielle can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.